Fitting into the campus culture: Understanding the integration of low-income students
Mendez, Jacob C.
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The purpose of this study was to understand how low-income undergraduate students perceived their integration to campus if they lived in the residence halls during their first year. Using the lens of Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory, this study employed the Process, Person, Context and Time model to understand students’ experiences in the residence halls and on-campus. This study used the photo elicitation methodology and individual interviews as the main methods of data collection. In this study, the role of the residence halls in student integration to campus was determined to be critical. The participants in this study saw the residence halls as a space for them to socialize and to make personal relationships with other students. These relationships were determined to be the most important factor for the participant’s integration to campus and were the reason each of them reported being highly integrated. As a whole, the integration to campus was primarily social in nature. The residence halls were perceived as catalysts to both new connections and relationships established outside of the student’s residence. In addition, the student’s personal identities and background characteristics were found to be the driving force that directed how they got involved on-campus and who they made personal relationships with. Finally, this study also found the importance of participating in scholarship programs because these programs helped students integrate into campus and make relationships with other students. This research revealed that living on-campus was important for the participant’s social integration and echoed previous research. This study adds to a growing body of literature focused on seeking to understand the impact of living in the residence halls, particularly among low-income first year students.
Thesis (Ed.D.)-- Wichita State University, College of Education, Dept. of Counseling, Educational Leadership, Educational and School Psychology